Part 2 Degenerative Disc Disease : Best Exercises To Help Your Lower Back Pain – Spondylosis

By Dr Ken Nakamura+

Degenerative Disc Disease Exercises: X-rays showing DDD: Downtown Toronto Chiropractic

Have you  been told that you have degenerative disc disease and are looking for relief?


Did you want surgery for your lower back or would you prefer degenerative disc disease exercises?


Chances are that you don’t want surgery. Degenerative disc disease exercises can help many people who have this condition like you.


What is Degnerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative disc disease is essentially the thinning of the discs that are found between your vertebrae. At the tender age of 7 years of age the blood vessels that feed your disc start to disappear. By the age of 20 the blood vessels have completely disappeared.


When the blood vessels self-destruct the nutrients are carried to the center of the disc by absorption (diffusion). Oxygen and blood sugars gets absorbed by the disc but this is not an efficient way to get nutrients to the cells inside the disc. The cells become starved of nutrients making the cells inside the disc die. The cells inside the disc are responsible for the pressure inside the disc. The more cells that die the more pressure decreases in the disc.


See Also: Degnerative Disc Disease: Remedies For Lower Back Osteoarthritis That Provide Relief


Essentially your disc starts the process of degenerating around 7 years of age but you can’t see any changes in your X-rays until you are in your 4th decade.

Degenerative Disc Disease Exercises: X-rays showing DDD: Downtown Toronto Chiropractic


Can you see that one of the discs between the vertebra has a large space while the one above is smaller. This is degnerative disc disease. For the eagle eyed you will see that end result of degenerative disc disease is fusion of vertebrae shown between the bottom two red lines. That’s not one vertebra but two vertebrae.


You can’t stop the process of degeneration but you can do something about the pain related to degeneration. That’s why degenerative disc exercises are so important.


Degenerative Disc Disease Exercises


Degenerative disc disease exercises involve Stretching, Strengthening & Stability and Aerobic exercises.


Stretching is needed to increase the flexibility and mobility of the spinal muscles and to help relieve the accompanying muscle related pain


Strengthening and Stability: Degenerative disc disease exercises makes the muscle of the spine stronger taking the pressure off the joints and the disc.


Degenerative Disc Disease Exercise #1

Low back Support Back belt -post back belt exercises

  • Get into a crawling position with your hands and feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Put a curve in your lower back.
  • Brace your core by contracting your abs and lower back.
  • Lift up your arm first. If this is easy, then lift your leg only. If that is easy, then lift the opposite legs and arms, for example, right leg, left arm.
  • Want to make it tougher? Try lifting an arm and leg on the same side.
  • 3 sets of 10. If you are shaking a little or cannot balance quite right, you’re doing the right exercise for you, i.e. lifting just the leg or arm might be easy, but lifting opposite arms and legs might put you off-balance a bit. Make sure you are stable before going to the advanced bird dog.


Degenerative Disc Disease Exercise #2

How to Improve Posture-Chair Squats: Toronto Chiropractic Clinic

  • Stand in front of a chair as if you are going to sit on it.
  • Stand with your feet facing slightly more outward than your knee.
  • Make sure your butt comes out, and keep lowering you butt until you touch the chair.
  • Practice 3 sets of 10.
  • When you are stronger, take the chair away and go down until your knees are bent 90 degrees.


Degenerative Disc Disease Exercise #3

Degenerative Disc Disease Exercises Side Plank: Downtown Toronto Chriopractic


  • Get on your side with your elbows underneath your shoulders.
  • Your feet stacked on each other.
  • To make it harder you can raise up your arm like the picture above.
  • Bring your pelvis down to the floor then bring it up again 10 times.
  • Don’t rest when you touch the floor.
  • Try to do three sets each day.


Degenerative Disc Disease Exercise #4

Back Support, Post Back Support Exercise

  • Lie Face Down.
  • Toes together and your arms shoulder-width apart.
  • Get up on your toes and elbows like in the picture above.
  • Your legs and body should form a straight line. Don’t let your butt sag down or come up too high.
  •  Hold for 30 seconds to start. Hold for up to 1 minute. Do it 3 Times.

Degenerative Disc Disease Exercise #5

Degenerative Disc Disease Exercise Supine Plank: Downtown Toronto Chriopractic

  • Lie down face up with your hands down and knees bent.
  • Tighten your abs and lower back muscles.
  • Lift up till you form a straight line like in the picture above. Don’t go too high or too low.
  • Come back down and when you touch the floor come back up right away (no rest- your back needs endurance).
  • Try 3 sets of 10.


Aerobic Exercises

Try doing swimming if you are a swimmer. The best stroke is the breaststroke for most people. Try going 2-5 times a week for 20 minutes.


One of the degenerative disc disease exercises that are great for you is walking. Walking puts less pressure on your disc and moves your spine. If you are in acute pain this isn’t for you but if you are simply sore a brisk walk can really help. Try walking 20 minutes briskly everyday. (slow down or stop if the pain keeps increasing or gets sharp)


Cycling should be done with more caution. Start with a stationary bike first if you have access to one. This way there is no bumping up and down.


More importantly, you should keep the arch in your lower back while cycling. By keeping the lower back arched you protect the disc and prevent aggravating yourself.


Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment


Part 1 (link below) went over the surgical options, which do get results but have some side effects you definitely want to think about. They are Disc Fusion and Total Disc Replacement with a synthetic disc.


See Also: Degenerative Disc Disease: Remedies For Lower Back Osteoarthritis That Provide Relief


At this downtown Toronto chiropractic clinic I use a combination of manual therapy, posture and pain treatments.



  • Manual therapy includes mobilization and manipulation to improve the motion in the stiff joints and muscles. Mobilization is when your chiropractor moves your spine through its regular range of motion. Often it’s done while you are lying down, face-down or while you are lying down on your side.


  • Manipulation involves moving your spinal joints until you can hear a pop. Just like cracking a knuckle. This movement is still within the normal movements of the joint but just a little further than mobilization. It’s safe and effective at helping break adhesions, increase range of movement, and more importantly help with pain for many problems..


  • Myofascial Release Technique or Active Release Technique. When a muscle that is involved in your pain is found, your chiropractor will release the muscle so it is relieved of the tension and becomes looser making the pain associated with your muscle disappears. Your chiropractor will press on a trigger point and help move your joint through a full range of motion. After you learn how to do the movement, your chiropractor will simply push on the trigger point while you do the same movement. The process is repeated 3-5 times. Then you move onto another set of points in the same muscle.


See Also: Active Release Technique Is It For You


  • Postural Correction: When your posture is not good there is more pressure on the joints in your spine. Slouching or poking your chin out is a sign that certain muscle groups are too tight and others are too weak. The idea is to stretch the muscles that are too tight and strengthen the muscles that are too weak. I have dozens of people that come to the clinic that lack the strength but more importantly endurance to keep their bodies in place for the sitting job that they do.


  • Pain Treatments: Acupuncture, Laser and Shockwave therapy is used to decrease pain in and around your spinal joints and muscles



Tell us what you think in the comments below and like us on Facebook. I will answer all questions in the comments section here at this downtown Toronto Chiropractic clinic.




Dr Ken Nakamura

47 Responses to Part 2 Degenerative Disc Disease : Best Exercises To Help Your Lower Back Pain – Spondylosis
  • Vickie says:
    November 12, 2017 at 5:47 am

    Hi Dr.Ken,
    I hope you can offer some words of advice. I am a 29 year old female for the last year or so I have been experiencing some back pain and just kept going to my chiro, after seeing my pcp she recommended Physical therapy which I did for about 3 months. I have made some gains from all of this but something continued to not feel right. Finally my doctor sent me to get an MRI which shows two herniated discs at L4 and L5. The first is hitting a nerve and L5 is showing a slight tear. I’m really concerned and don’t know how to proceed I will be seeing a spinal specialist but do you have any words of advice? I’m a physically active person and love doing marathons, practice yoga and hiking. My husband and I want to start a family but now I’m left feeling overwhelmed and concerned if I will need surgery. Any advice or thoughts would be appreciated.

  • Heather Hamilton says:
    May 21, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    It’s been 7 weeks now that I had hurt my back and I’m in a lot of pain when walking or standing. I have been on a lt of medication and nothing seems to help control the pain at all. I have degenerative disc disease, L4 L5 as well as facet joint syndrome. I have tried chiropractor treatment, electroids on my back, traction, acupuncture and massage. Nothing is helping at all. I have seen the chiropractor almost every day for 4weeks. I am seeing a homeopath/Bowden therapy in two days to try something different. Dr now wants to send me to get a cortisone injection. How long does it take for pain to go away? Is the pain from inflammation or nerves? I’m getting very frustrated. I’ve been off work for 6 weeks now. Does walking around cause more irration and inflammation? I don’t want to cause any more disturbance to my back. Looking fwd to hearing back from you. Thank you in advance! Heather

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      May 22, 2017 at 2:57 am

      Thanks for your question Heather. Why don’t you try doing knee to chest exercises while lying down on your back? You do this repeatedly holding for 1-2 seconds repeating 10 times. You should be done in about 30 seconds. If you have pain while standing or walking and little or no pain while lying down in some positions there is no inflammation. Also, after 7 weeks inflammation would have disappeared. If you do the right exercises in can be a couple of weeks more. Of course, there are no guarantees though. If you do the wrong exercises you might stay that way a long time but spontaneously get better. Most people don’t get better as they continue to do the things that makes them worse.

      Hope that helps your degenerative disc disease. If you have any more questions for this Toronto downtown chiropractor I will do my best to give you a good answer. The above is an opinion and not a recommendation. Remember any exercise make you worse so I advise you to do this with the supervision of someone familiar with the exercises.

  • Ikvinder Singh Mangat says:
    December 10, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    Degenerated l5 s1 disc shows large broad based left paracentral and left posterolateral and further more is written on my mri scan ! I have been facing minor pains from a few months but a few weeks back I went to the gym and I had a back excercise and suddenly I felt severe pain and I was not able to weigh on left leg and everytime my lefts part hurts now I am on bed rest since then and taking tablets ! Doing small excercises according to my doc

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      December 14, 2016 at 10:10 am

      Thanks for your comment Ikvinder. While long-term bed rest seems to help all of the research doesn’t say it will help. You should try the exercises here in this article. This is an opinion and not a recommendation. Please keep in mind you can get worse and need to be guided a professional as these exercises are not customized to your particular case.

      Hope that helps your degenerative disc disease.

  • Ann Omasdang says:
    September 16, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    Thanks for this Dr. Nakamura.
    I have one question. As my age 28, I suffering this pain within 4 months. I already made MRI and x-ray. In my MRI I have problem on my disc, it seems Died cells or no more blood. My question is, if I will do this exercises, until when? I will suffer the pain at the first time?

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      September 17, 2016 at 9:28 am

      Thanks for your question. You need to tell me your symptoms. Without details, I cannot give you my opinion.

      Hope you understand it takes a lot more details about your degenerative disc disease to give you an opinion.

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